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The closer we get

The closer we get


In this "best of the year" issue there's one story that, for me, perfectly encapsulates where we are at the start of 2006--and what's "best" about it. "Good Neighbors" reports how Jim Stewart, a Texas man at odds with his gay son, learned something about family values from his new neighbors, a gay male couple with an infant son. The lesson brought Jim and his son Jason together without animosity for the first time in years.

"I began visiting with the gay family and realized that they are just like everybody else," Jim, who lives in Austin, told The Advocate. "And I started thinking that discriminating against my own son was the worst discrimination there is."

So there you go. Certain Texans' preference for antigay discrimination may have been a starting point for 2005--say, on Inauguration Day in January--but humanity and love will, given a chance, trump homophobia. Lies about pedophilia and "lifestyle choices" and attacking traditional marriage may poison people's minds, but at a neighborhood barbecue with the queer neighbors pitching in, the truth will out.

After hanging with the gays next door, Jim Stewart says, "It dawned on me that being gay is not a choice. I didn't understand it's in the DNA. I realized prejudice is through fear or ignorance, and in my case, I had both."

If we are to have hope for the new year, we have to believe that this story is being repeated daily across the nation--not just between dads and sons but between mothers and daughters, schoolyard bullies and their targets, preachers and their congregants, bosses and their workers, athletes and their teammates, and so on and on. It doesn't take a reality TV show--which brought that gay couple and their baby to Jim Stewart's cul-de-sac--for people to come together, even when one side starts from a place of "prejudice...fear or ignorance."

Very rarely does a person move from a place of acceptance and love to a place of suspicion and hate. The vast majority of people who shift their views are moving in the other direction, toward our common humanity. From darkness into light.

Looking back at our cover stories from 2005, you can see how this truth plays out: within families in the "red states," among Mormons and high school students, at colleges and day care, and in the growth of gay and lesbian images and media outlets, from The L Word to Logo to the phenomenal Brokeback Mountain. As 2006 begins, marriage equality is still the law in Massachusetts, Olivia Cruises continues to help lesbian sports heroes out of the closet, and science is getting ever closer to a "gay gene." Even a story about gay men's recovery from crystal meth addiction is in part a story about truth and love winning out--in that case, love of self, also known as "pride." Shadows do fall upon us now and again, but they cannot hold. Every year we move a little further into the light.

Many battles loom for 2006, both political and personal. Our "strategy for victory" (to borrow a phrase) needs constant revision, and we all have a lot of work to do to reach full equality in our society and in our families--more work than we really want to think about. But every day brings more families like the Stewarts back together. Every year moves us closer to love.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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